News archive

October 2012

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Venezuelan Llanos - waterbirds (and more) of the flooded plains

Venezuelan Llanos - waterbirds (and more) of the flooded plains

We welcomed back Ann and Phil Farrer (having really enjoyed their excellent talk and photographs about Mongolia in May last year).

We were not disappointed as again Phil had captured some amazing photos of birds, mammals and reptiles. Ann described how Phil edged closer and closer to crocodile and snake to get a better shot - sometimes much to her concern! I'm sure Giant Anteaters can be dangerous (despite having no teeth!) but Phil's subject curled up and went to sleep so allowing him to get a head shot that filled the frame.

His Anaconda specimen was also curled up just under the water - these snakes can swallow a Capybara, the largest guinea pig in the world (as Phil described them) at about four feet long.

There were also brilliant close ups of many birds including one of the strangest living birds, the Hoatzin. The young have claws on their wings. Their nest is usually built on branches overhanging water and if, say, a marauding hawk threatens, the chicks can abandon the nest and climb back up later using the claws. Scientists don't know if it is a truly primitive bird (think feathered dinosaur) or a recent evolution.

In the Venezuelan Llanos, cattle ranches have developed successful tourism based on wildlife observation and Ann and Phil stayed on such a ranch. They travelled independently which meant that they could take their time to observe and photograph. The truck they were transported in had a platform over the driver's cab so they set up tripods and optics there - one stamp meant stop, two stamps meant go!

We all enjoyed Ann and Phil's presentation of such a wide diversity of wildlife and the fact that they did not have to travel more than a mile from the ranch was quite amazing.

If you click on the 'Download file' link, then you will see the striking poster that David (our Publicity officer) produced to advertise this talk.

Download file